While many people associate a “slow” metabolism with the frustration of a slow weight loss, and credit it with the ability for others to burn calories quicker and eat what they like, how much importance does metabolism have on the success of a weight-loss program? Is there a way to rev up that metabolism to be more efficient at burning calories?
Metabolism is linked to weight, but not in the way most people assume. Surprisingly, research shows a slow metabolism is rarely a direct cause of excess weight gain. Your metabolism does influence your body’s basic energy needs, but it is the intake of food and drink countered by the daily physical activity that will be the ultimate determination in a person’s weight.
What makes up a person’s metabolism and its needs?
The biochemical process in which your body converts the food you eat and drink into fuel, or usable energy, is the definition of metabolism. In this process your body combines oxygen and the calories in food and beverages you drink, to obtain energy to function. Breathing, blood circulation, maintaining hormone levels, growing, repairing, and burning fat are all vital functions that use energy converted from food and drink.
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the minimal number of calories needed to sustain life at a resting state. Many factors determine an individual’s BMR:
Lean body mass: The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Lean body mass is directly correlated to your BMR.
Age: As you age, your muscle decreases, therefore, your BMR decreases.
Gender: Women typically have less muscle and more body fat than men, so they will have a lower BMR than a man of the same height and weight.
Can a person change their BMR?
It’s not easy to change your basal metabolic rate (BMR) as it stays fairly consistent for your body’s day-to-day functions and the energy used to maintain them. Thermogenesis -or the processing of food by digestion, absorption, transportation, and storing of food consumed takes calories- but it only counts for up to 10% of daily use. The body’s energy requirements do not vary much unless physical activity and exercise are changed increasing the calories the body burns each day. It’s rare that a body would use more than 1500 calories a day, and taking in more than that usually results in weight gain over time.
As metabolism is a natural process regulated by the body, the body will compensate for the metabolism to keep it in balance based on individual needs. This is why severely restrictive diets or fad diets will not work. The body will naturally compensate by slowing down the bodily processes to conserve calories in a “survival mode.”
Only adding exercise and strength training to a balanced eating program can naturally boost your metabolism by building muscle that will burn calories more efficiently and help maintain a healthier lifestyle.
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